Will Knee Pain Affect My Gait?

Aug 01, 2023
Will Knee Pain Affect My Gait?
Yes, knee pain can affect the way you walk, also known as your gait. Read on to learn about common pain-induced gait changes like limping, shortened steps, and other ways you might compensate for a chronically achy knee joint.

If you have knee pain, you may show it with your gait. It’s one thing to hobble around for a few days due to a fall, but ongoing knee pain is different — and comes with its own set of potential complications. 

Knee pain can be acute or chronic. For example, if you slipped on the stairs and banged your knee, your joint may heal fully in a few days. But if you’re aging and experiencing a cartilage breakdown in your joint, your knee may hurt most of the time. 

No matter why you have knee pain, it can affect your walk or your gait. Dr. Sergio Alvarado and our skilled team at Spine & Pain Center of San Anotonio San Antonio and Live Oak, Texas, can determine the underlying cause of your knee pain and make recommendations for rehabilitation, including radiofrequency ablation and joint injections

Four ways knee pain can affect your gait

If you’re compensating for your knee pain, it probably shows in your walk. Here are four common ways your gait can change with persistent knee pain. 

1. Limping 

This is an obvious way many people compensate for knee pain. When you favor one leg over the other, it can create a noticeable limp. Worse, if you do it for too long, it’ll throw your body out of alignment and give rise to other aches and pains.

2. Shortened steps 

Sometimes people with knee pain take shorter steps to minimize their knee pain. Depending on the cause of the pain, you might be trying to reduce the impact of your weight on your knee, or limit the range of motion of your achy joint. 

3. Alter your foot placement

Have you ever watched the way people step? Or, if you’re the type of person who wears down every pair of shoe soles in the same way, then you know how your foot naturally lands. Some people favor their outer soles or their inner. Ideally, you walk heel to toe while landing evenly on all parts of your foot. Chronic knee pain can alter your normal foot placement. 

4. Reduce your knee movement 

If your knee hurts when you bend it, you may reduce your knee bend to compensate. What’s causing that knee pain? Could it be bursitis or osteoarthritis? Are you putting stress on your hip or other joints due to your attempt to keep your knee straight? 

Your gait affects all of your joints and spinal alignment. When you compensate for knee pain, you impact your ankle and hip joints, which can lead to future problems. A normal gait appears fluid and in tune with your body, while knee pain can negatively affect your gait and create pain and dysfunction in other areas of your body. 

Address your chronic knee pain today

If you’re experiencing knee pain, uncovering its root cause can help you get started on the right treatment plan so you can feel better and move easier — and so you won’t continue damaging your body. 

If you’re ready to get real, long-lasting relief from knee pain, we can help. Call your nearest Spine & Pain Center of San Antonio office in San Antonio or Live Oak, Texas, today, or click online to schedule an appointment any time.